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Odrek Rwabwogo: Eulogy for the late Mzee Ernest Kakwaano

By Odrek Rwabwogo

Chairperson, Exports & Industrial Advisory Committee.

The passing on of Mzee Ernest Kakwaano, 80, on Easter Sunday reminded us again of the sunset of a generation that stood for Uganda when few would; and even more poignantly, how much needs to be done to keep their example of humanness and patriotism alive as our country’s economy and politics continue to shift back and forth. The English language has no verb for the common adjective we use in everyday speech – the word ‘resilient’. If it had, I would perhaps use the verb ‘resele’ to describe this generation that we are fast losing!

Kakwaano became my friend in 1994, a couple of years after he left the Coffee Marketing Board (CMB) back into the private sector. The private sector is where he had horned his skills as an entrepreneur in Kenya in the 1970s, running a Japanese motor vehicle franchise in Nairobi. When we met, he had been dropped from CMB, removed from the property he occupied with his family, and shoved out of the limelight. It was the days of liberalization of the economy, and the end of marketing boards for commodities. It was also the peak of the IMF/World Bank Structural adjustment programs that emphasized getting the government out of social services in return for technical and financial support from the West.

Why I am reminded of this word ‘resilience’, for which I prefer the verb ‘resele’ if it ever appeared in the English lexicon, is that Kakwaano and a number of people like him, who would have had a sense of entitlement for the work they did in exile for the Movement such as saving lives, publicity, treating the wounded, rescuing families of those being persecuted, hiding rebel fighters in transit, etc.; they remained resilient and humble in the face of what often looked humiliating treatment. Kakwaano would have had a ‘legitimate right’ of sorts given he used his car business along with Alice, his wife’s time, to fund some of the NRM external wing activities. He, along with others, genuinely believed he should have been ‘perennially rewarded’ than many newcomers into the system. And in Kakwaano’s calm demeanor, through it all, lies the answer to some of today’s NRM problems. In Kakwaano’s death and his having remained silent about some of his misgivings, we understand the irony of growth and the need to keep certain principles alive. Growth brings change and often that very change can sweep us away. We are called to remain principled as leaders.

When the Movement was still small, the original organ of the National Resistance Council (NRC) of 38 people and even the expanded one in 1989, there were two principles that many of us admired then, when we were in high school. One was the idea of constructive criticism which stipulated that one could contend against the reigning view with good facts, and present a compelling case against a leading position, all in the confines of comradeship, without fear of being misunderstood or losing their job. Constructive criticism saved the young organization from corrupt elements and liars within as they were exposed internally. This method also gave meaning and significance to the value of the Movement’s ideology even to those who were opposed to it at the time. This is why the Movement largely won over people with the power of argument not money or use of intimidation and brute force.

The second idea was collective decision-making by consensus without subjecting key decisions to a vote. A vote would be the last resort if something was deeply controversial and endlessly divisive with a possibility that the public could misconstrue it. That is how many of us young then supported the arrest of Col. Kiiza Besigye, Maj. Gen. David Ssejusa, Gen. Henry Tumukunde, and many other army officers when they dabbled in politics. We understood well that the 1966 crisis that introduced Idi Amin into Uganda’s politics was the genesis of much trouble the country went through. That kind of consensus was an underlying generally accepted way to approach controversial public issues so that our country could heal from the past. And even when consensus failed and a vote was taken, there would be steps taken to heal the side that would have lost the argument and bring them back. The main idea was to convince people to see the correctness of a particular line of thinking and not political posturing. Those who opposed a particular stand in a meeting would be given all the time to speak plainly without fear and if they didn’t convince the majority, they (the minority) would never step out of the room and speak ill of what had been collectively decided on.

These two tools in our work methods were slowly abandoned after 2001 and even worse after 2005 with the pressure to return to party politics. To expand our support base, we dropped or perhaps I could say, watered down, the key values that partly gave us the initial support from intellectuals, workers, and peasants. These groups had been the bulwark of defense against infiltration. The reason the death of Kakwaano reminds me of all this is that the ones who loved the Movement most when these principles were shaken, decided to go silent in respect of the founding principles. The newcomers with limited teaching and awareness, took over and often confused leadership with the titles and positions they came to occupy. They weren’t schooled in these principles and were in a hurry to get to the top. They didn’t understand that leadership is not a job. It is having a burden on how to move society forward. In the watering down of some of these principles and more, we now see results in the quality and depth of leadership in the public sector. Yes, Expansion is good but principles are greater at keeping that expansion within a prescribed growth trajectory that retains values for an organization’s future. If you sacrifice principles at the expense of growth, an organization will struggle to cope with changes in the economy, demographics, and the much-needed thinking on how to organize for tomorrow. I believe that we can remain democratic and still enforce discipline and a standard of leadership for the young people who have joined the Movement over the years.

While I look back reminiscing over the old days, I recognize that every season has its good side and a bad one. There is no neutrality in life. I see that we will not be able to return to the past. We have to build afresh with humility, which is what Mzee Kakwaano’s example reminds us all. In 1994 when I took an evening job at his industrial graphics company, I understood him as a man of few words but a large warm heart. We would work with him on stories to very late in the night for a newspaper he founded called, the Market Place. He would edit the paper with us before it went to press. At about 1 am, he would take us out for a drink and a warm meal in the small corner restaurants of Entebbe town.

There I would pester him with questions about his life, family, work, and how he ended up in exile, and what motivated him as a businessman after losing a job in government. He was always open and we remained friends till he passed on.

While I am saddened by the fact of my not being able to see him on his deathbed given the heavy pressures now placed on our days at work, I have no sense of guilt or shame with him. This is because last year, he made it to a coveted list of mentorship awards that President Museveni gives to those in advanced age who have served our country well. We were able to speak about him among his friends in his hearing and he got to know us younger people and how much we recognize his work for the Movement and the country. On that February day at Sheraton last year, I unburdened myself of any guilty feelings about these old people by saying thank you to them publicly. In one year, three have left us and gone in peace. They include Honorables Henry Kyemba and Cecila Ogwal, now joined by Ernest Kakwaano. They were all on the honor roll for the year 2023.

God keep your soul in peace Mzee Kakwaano.

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Odrek Rwabwogo’s full speech at the 2024 National Mentorship Awards Luncheon

Mr. President

The visiting speaker of the House of People’s Representatives of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, the Honorable Tagesse Chaffo Dullo.

The elders who will be awarded today,

Cabinet Ministers

Members of Parliament,

Young people, who joined us at this year’s mentorship luncheon

I thank you very much Mr. President for allowing to host this luncheon and to award the crop of old people we chose for 2024. Last year, you were kind enough to send us the retired PM Hon. Amama Mbabazi (who is here) to preside over the mentorship dinner at Sheraton.

I thank the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hon. Ahmed Abiy whom Your Excellency sent us to, for in turn sending us Speaker Tagesse to be our keynote speaker today.

Some of the yardstick we use to arrive at cohorts to award annually include the following traits:

  1. The years of service a person has put into work for Uganda,
  2. The quality of decisions they made when they had authority,
  3. The depth, intensity, and character of the person,
  4. The kind of changes or reforms they instituted
  5. The impact they have even in retirement

As you might notice, the categories we choose cut across science and technology, art and culture, enterprise and manufacturing, politics and religion, and many other areas of life. Uganda has many good people who have laid foundations for our country but few are known and even fewer are celebrated. I got to know this when we began with nominations last year that ran into 60 + people yet we wanted few. We were not sure who to pick and who to leave out.

That gave me hope to know there are many people out there who build in silence but in the end, our country keeps united, stable, and growing.

To mentor is to guide; to illuminate a path for a young person by an elder, a sort of apprenticeship in life by the older to the young. Often it can be reversed given where one has knowledge and the young can mentor the old too. Mentorship is a good classroom for young people in leadership but sadly we haven’t been deliberate at it. We have not been intentional in creating seedbeds of leaders to guide institutions and the country in a world so competitive and set against Africa.  I woke up to this reality years back when I would be teaching and young people ask questions that show they are unhinged from the reality of what it takes to build a home, a business, an institution, or a country. Many come into leadership without preparation and they often confuse leadership with positions and titles.

There are about four mental architectures I get from young people especially because of the changes wrought by the internet and social media.

The first category is Avoidance. Young people severely reduce quality relationships for fear of opening up to causes that are bigger than them. They do not want to be hurt; they pretend all is well using clean-cut social media images of themselves; they appear strong on the outside but pretty weak inside; they do not want to be vulnerable by consulting elders on what they don’t know. They assume they know it all. In the end, they do not fulfill their purpose, and their potential remains underutilized. This category I meet regularly and they are full of criticism and less knowledgeable on what to do.

The second category is those who suffer from what psychologists call Deprivation. These were raised by self-centered caregivers who showed them that their needs do not matter. They develop an inner critic that tells them, ‘You don’t matter to the world, you are on your own’. These youth often have unworthy feelings and they struggle to fit in. This category is easily abused by peers and led into alcohol or drugs because deep in their hearts they have a yearning to fit in.

The third category is the ones we call overreactive youth. Often, they were abused when they were young and threatened by circumstances. Those thoughts stayed with them through life. They see no neutrality in anything. Everything that doesn’t take their view is menacing and should be fought!

The world to them is a dangerous place and there should be no compromises. They overreact and lash out at small inconveniences. They don’t want to wait. They are impatient and confuse time with seasons. (Cronos versus Kairos). These miss the calling on their lives and rush into instant gratification and kill their tomorrow.

The fourth category I meet is passive aggressors. This group has repressed anger over the years, probably against parents or their caregivers and peers. They sidestep open communication to avoid conflict and confrontation even when this confrontation might heal them of this anger. They have trouble dealing with negative emotions; they turn this passive aggression into a subtle power play. They manipulate others so that they can make them feel guilty and in return get their affection.

All the above categories need mentoring because these are the young people who will come into leadership with these emotional, social, and political deficits. These mental frames are the raw material a country has to produce leaders of tomorrow. It is the reason we use these mentorship sessions annually to create a bridge between the young and the old. A bridge is a good metaphorical example in life. It helps you cross to the other side so you can understand it better. If you keep this side of your river, you will never know that life has to be lived on both sides for a sense of maturity and leadership to emerge. These old people have crossed that bridge of life and returned and they are good examples to study from. Mentorship isn’t just verbal. It is also watching the actions and reading the thoughts of those ahead of you and discerning what to do for your time.

Take Mzee Kintu Musoke as an example. At age 14, he watched his uncle Simeoni Kintu, arrested in 1949 simply for asking to be allowed to go in his cotton farm. He saw a force of Turkana men imported by the British to quell the Katwe riots, descend on fellow Africans, and beat them badly. Kintu Musoke would join Ignatius Musaazi as a young boy to campaign for independence. When he got to India for his studies, he mobilized two other young men – Kirunda Kivejinja and Bidandi Ssali and; together they forged a bond that helped them deal with the politics of Uganda over the years, as a team. They remained committed to Uganda and each other’s ideas. Why don’t you as young people ask them the questions of life, parenting, ideology, and how to keep a country united even if there are political pressures from all corners, internal and external to not work together?

These values of commitment to something higher are partly why we remember Jacob Oulanyah too today. I thank his family for allowing us to use him as a point of connection to illuminate the path for young people and to celebrate the life of these old people when they can still hear and see us. Every time we celebrate the life of old people when they are alive, I feel a burden lifted off my shoulders, a sense of relief. This is because speeches at funerals aren’t helpful to the ones you would have told when they were alive so that they can know you value(d) their life.

Jacob Oulanyah and his first wife Jennifer, were my friends and I know they cared much about the quality of institutions for the country. They also had a deep sense of fairness and justice. Jacob in particular knew how to suspend judgment and hold two opposing opinions and still walk gingerly through life. He had a sense of commitment to what he chose to do. Commitment to something higher than self is what brings true meaning and significance to life. When you commit to something, you are not just making promises. You are re-ordering your life to fulfill this commitment. Jacob understood that choices mean depth and not superficiality and that each choice we make has costs.

For example, when he left one side of the political spectrum, he was not liked where he left. Some members of the group he joined were suspicious of him preferring to keep a distance. It is standing at half-way house and not knowing who to trust. He moved on nevertheless. He was also a peacemaker and without him in the Juba peace talks, perhaps, we would have missed the very compelling voice of some diaspora groups that didn’t understand the war in northern Uganda yet kept pushing for its continuation out of selfishness. He spoke plainly and convincingly when he took a stand on an issue. This is why we use his example this year as a connecting bridge between the young and the old.

Perhaps Jacob picked his reconciliation and forgiveness pathway through his suffering as a student and beyond – both mentally and physically. I know very much that those who suffer forgive most. The playwright Thornton Wilder in his short poem from the play, ‘The Angel That Troubled The Waters’, says “Without your wounds, where would your power be? It is your very remorse that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In love’s service, only the wounded soldiers can serve”.

I am glad we celebrate you, old people and remember Jacob on a day just before Good Friday. May the example of unity of generations we see today, mend our broken areas and keep us strong as a country.

Now to you, young people who came to witness this occasion, keep doing the right thing even if you are under pressure to digress, to join the crowd of wrongdoers in your offices, farms, or the private sector. Last night I was listening to a country singer called Johnny Cash, who died in 2003. Its words say, “No, I won’t back down, there is no easy way out, I will stand my ground, I won’t be turned around, because, I know what is right. I got just one life and, in a world, pushing me around, I will still stand my ground. You can stand me at the gates of hell but I won’t backdown”

I ask that you look at those who have done well by serving our county and learn from them. Don’t back down from doing the right thing.

And to our elders, it is in the sunset of our lives that we get tired and make mistakes. We ask you to remain a shining example to our young people to the end in your word and deed. It is in your good example that together with young people, we can create a RAFT to help us cross to a brighter future for all of us as a country and a continent.

Once again, I thank H.E. the President for allowing us to do this here and for gracing this event with his presence

Speaker Tagesse for being with us

Speaker Anita Among who came to the airport to receive our gest with us

The state house team that helped us with this work

PACEID team of young people

Thank you and the Lord God bless you all.

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Mentoring plays a vital role in nurturing individuals to achieve excellence- President Museveni 

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has emphasized the importance of understanding the story of nature, society, and the human race to provide accurate and effective mentorship.

Museveni revealed this on Thursday evening March 28, 2024, during a National Mentorship luncheon that he was hosting at State House-Entebbe to recognize the invaluable contributions of elderly and retired men and women who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of Uganda. These 16 esteemed individuals, recognized for their incredible achievements and long-standing service, were awarded for their immense role in shaping the country’s progress. The luncheon was also an opportunity to pay tribute to Jacob Oulanyah, the former Speaker of Parliament for his dedication and commitment to public service.

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni addressing guests at the luncheon

The 2024 Mentorship luncheon ran under the theme, ‘Modeling the right behavior for the youth of Africa in the 21st Century” and was attended by high-ranking government officials, diplomats, and esteemed guests from various sectors.
“Having a deep understanding of the human race, its history, and evolution helps mentors comprehend the unique strengths, weaknesses, and potential of each mentee. This knowledge forms the foundation for providing personalized and impactful mentorship.” President Museveni noted during his speech.

He also urged guests to embrace science and technology in mitigating societal challenges. “To receive accurate guidance in mentorship, individuals must understand the role of humans as agents of societal change and the significance of science and technology in addressing societal challenges. I salute Odrek Rwabwogo and his team (Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development- PACEID) for recognizing senior citizens. If you don’t reward those who do well, then you are letting down society. I am happy Odrek Rwabwogo and his group have taken up this responsibility. Congratulations to all the awardees for their contributions and recognition of the late Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah.”

President Museveni with Mzee Christopher Gala, one of the awardees

The sixteen recipients of this year’s National Mentorship/Leadership Award were; Justice George W. Kanyeihamba, Geraldine Namirembe Bitamazire, Hon. Kintu Musoke, Prof. Ezra Suruma, Amos Nzeyi, Hon. Victoria Sekitoleko, James Rwehabura Tumusiime, Dr. Peter Mugyenyi, Archbishop John Baptist Odama, Mzee Christopher Gala, John Wycliffe Karazaarwe, Prof. Frederick Kayanja, Moses Matovu, Pastor Gary Skinner, Dr. Mercy Mirembe Ntangaare, and Hon. Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi.

John Wycliffe Karazaarwe with family receiving his award from President Museveni

Museveni welcomed and thanked Rt. Hon. Tagesse Chaffo Dullo, the Speaker of Ethiopia’s House of Peoples Representatives for gracing the occasion and accepting to deliver a keynote address at the National Mentorship Awards ceremony.

Hon. Victoria Sekitoleko receives her award, accompanied by Dr. Rev Florence Muranga and Dr. Eve-Kasirye Alemu

In his keynote speech, Hon. Tagesse extended his sincere appreciation and heartfelt thanks to the people and government of Uganda for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to me and his delegation upon arrival. He took the opportunity to appreciate R. Hon. Anita Annet Among, Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda, for welcoming him from the moment he disembarked from the plane.

“We must empower and pave the way for African youth to assume their rightful positions through the right mentorship and guidance. As we strive for Economic growth, innovation, peace, and stability, we must not just include young African leaders but also actively engage and empower them. Their unique perspectives and talents can significantly contribute to these vital goals of our well-being. We must also acknowledge their outstanding achievements publicly on such a decorated platform.”

Hon. Tagesse Chaffo Dullo, delivering his keynote speech at the National Mentorship luncheon at State House-Entebbe

“I would also like to congratulate the family of the late awardee (Jacob Oulanyah) for leading by example. Regrettably, he could not accept this honor in person and spend more time with his loved ones while serving his beloved country. But his loved ones, those who survive him, are honored by his services, and I believe they will carry on his legacy. Seeing Hon. Andrew Oulanyah, his son, following his father’s example fills me with immense pleasure. This is a testament to his father’s leadership and values passed on to the next generation, who deserve recognition.” Stated Hon. Tagesse.

Oderk Rwabwogo, the Senior Presidential Advisor Special Duties who doubles as the PACEID Chairman highlighted that mentorship extends beyond just words.

Odrek Rwabwogo with Vice President H.E Maj. Gen Jessica Alupo at the awards ceremony

“Mentorship involves observing and understanding individuals’ actions and thoughts to provide effective and meaningful guidance. This observation allows mentors to assess mentees’ strengths, weaknesses, and challenges, enabling them to tailor their guidance toward specific needs. Rather than simply imparting knowledge or advice verbally, mentors should actively engage with mentees’ experiences, encouraging growth and development through hands-on guidance.” he remarked.

Prof. Ezra Suruma, accompanied by his wife Specioza Suruma, receives his award from Vice President Jessica Alupo

“The National Mentorship Awards ceremony is to remind the young generation of the value of dignified and exemplary service by the older retired public servants, who exit Uganda’s public service to pave the way for the young ones,” Rwabwogo added while urging youths to strive to achieve a national collective ethic.

Archbishop John Baptist Odama prayed for the smooth running of the ceremony. He was one of the awardees. Besides him is Matthew Bagonza, Head of Secretariat-PACEID

Hon. Andrew Ojok Oulanyah, son of the late speaker, revealed that Jacob Oulanyah always wanted to do the right things, the right way and at the right time implying that he was committed to ethical behavior and always acted in the best interest of the people he served. “Our father was no doubt a mentor to many which aligns with today’s theme of ‘Modeling the eight behavior for the youth of Africa in the 21st Century’. Thank you, Your Excellency, for opening your doors to not only hosting this ceremony but also making sure so many young people are involved”.

Atim Karen Oulanyah (C), Hon. Andrew Ojok Oulanyah (L) and Harold Oulanyah (R) gave moving speeches about their late father, Jacob Oulanyah

Karen Atim Oulanyah, daughter of Jacob Oulanyah said, “Our father was a man who always strived for unity. We, as young aspiring leaders, have to strive for the same. Thank you all, it doesn’t go unappreciated. I hope we all immerse ourselves in my father’s values. Thank you, Mr. Odrek Rwabwogo for this initiative”.

Yubu Onyong (C) mobbed by Gen. Katumba Wamala (L) and Hon. Mmary Grace Mugasa

Yubu Onyong, one of the young people mentored by Jacob Oulanyah paid tribute by encouraging young people out there to emulate the late Speaker of Parliament. “A plan without action is just a gamble. The future of this country is dependent on the youth. And the youth need to be mentored. Let’s stick to the mentorship values that Jacob instilled in us. I would like the youth to encourage themselves that everything is possible.”

Brenda Ker, Jacob Oulanyah’s Press Secretary for many years remembered the late as a forgiving man and never vindictive. “What I learned from my boss (as we always called him) is to forgive, nothing you can ever do on this earth is worth it if you don’t forgive one another”.

H.E Etsegenet Bezabih Yimenu, Ethiopia’s ambassador to Uganda

Some of the guests included; Hon. Norbert Mao who revealed that Jacob Oulanyah mentored so many people and always surrounded himself with young people, H.E. Maj. Gen. Jessica Alupo, H.E Etsegent Bezabih Yimenu, Rt. Hon. Amama Mbabazi, Hon. Mary Grace Mugasa, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa, Lt. Col. Bright Rwamirama, Rt. Hon. Kasule Lumumba, Hon. Richard Todwong, Hon. Rose Namayanja, Hon. John Nasasira, a considerable number of legislators, family members, religious leaders, friends and well-wishers from all walks of life.

Belinda Amanya, speaker of the EACYC got the opportunity to address the audience.

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Museveni to host luncheon honoring legacy of late Jacob Oulanyah

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is set to host a luncheon to pay tribute to Jacob Oulanyah, the former Speaker of Parliament, for his dedication and commitment to public service. The event will double as a Mentorship awards ceremony for twenty (20) men and women who have diligently served and contributed to the development of Uganda in their respective fields.

This was revealed on Wednesday, March 20th, 2024 at a press briefing at the Kampala Serena Hotel organized by Odrek Rwabwogo, the Senior Presidential Advisor- Special Duties.  

Friends and relatives of former Speaker Jacob Oulanyah in a group photo after the press briefing

At the event themed, ‘Modeling the right behaviour for the youth of Africa in the 21st century’, Rwabwogo, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID), announced that the recipients of the Mentorship/Leadership Awards for 2024 will be unveiled at the luncheon scheduled for Thursday, March 28th, 2024 at State House-Entebbe.

These prestigious awards aim to recognize individuals who have shown exceptional service and leadership in their respective fields, making a significant positive impact on Uganda’s development.

Rwabwogo waxed lyrical about Oulanyah noting that the late has become a role model for many young people in Uganda, serving as an inspiration through his integrity and principled leadership. “His influence extends beyond Uganda’s borders, as Oulanyah’s leadership style has become a template for leaders across the African continent. As Uganda moves forward, it is inspiring to see individuals like Jacob Oulanyah and the award recipients leading the way. Their integrity and principled approach to leadership serve as guiding lights for future generations, driving them to strive for excellence and make a difference in their respective fields.” Rwabwogo stated.

The Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon Norbert Mao drew bouts of laughter from the audience as he satirically reminisced about the good times he spent with Oulanyah going as far back as university at Makerere University when they were laying foundations for their political careers. “Jacob was confident and that is why he went for the positions he occupied. It goes to show that God does not choose the qualified, He qualifies the chosen. On March 28, 2024, President Museveni will host the Mentorship Luncheon at State House, Entebbe. H.E. continues the journey of sowing the mustard seed. You don’t have to be NRM to be a believer in the values that Museveni stands for. I am one of those who have caused him a great headache. His mission is to gather true believers from everywhere because they serve Uganda. We want to thank the President for agreeing to host this event and honor Jacob (Oulanyah) and the other twenty men and women who have served the country exceptionally.”

Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Norbert Mao

Ofwono Opondo, the Executive Director at Uganda Media Centre urged all aspiring young leaders to emulate Oulanyah in whatever career they choose. “He was a man of integrity, was fierce and courageous but most importantly he was principled.”

Hon. Andrew Ojok Oulanyah the Omoro Country Member of Parliament and the Late’s son revealed how Oulanyah was a wonderful father who will forever be missed and that his legacy shall live on.

Uganda Media Centre Executive Director Ofwono Opondo with Hon. Andrew Ojok, son to the late Jacob Oulanyah

The announcement fell on the day that marks two years since the former Speaker of Parliament passed on, March 20, 2022.

Atim Karen Oulanyah, the daughter of the late thanked Rwabwogo for the initiative that is shining a spotlight on her father’s legacy. “Please, let us celebrate the man that he was and aspire to be like him”.

Atim Karen Oulanyah, daughter to Jacob Oulanyah speaks at the briefing

Matthew Bagonza revealed how blessed he is to have shared some wonderful moments with Jacob, “Jacob Oulanyah spoke peace. He trusted people. That is the kind of man he was. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for sparing time to attend this event that is honoring the legacy of the late Speaker, and also recognizing other men and women who have contributed immensely to the growth of Uganda.”

Matthew Bagonza, Head of Secretariat- Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development

In his concluding remarks, Rwabwogo explained the purpose of this year’s theme which is to build better role models for the youth, not only in Uganda but Africa at large. “The purpose of this theme is to encourage and build better role models in Africa for the youth who often draw examples from the rest of the world, especially with the pervasive internet and its social media, without a robust cultural and ideological interest that seeks to build Africa. The topic will cover economic change, and political and social tools required to prepare the continent for competition in the 21st century.”

Brenda Ker, Press Secretary to the late Jacob Oulanyah

Others present at the press briefing were Oulanyah’s relatives and colleagues including; Brenda Ker, the late’s Press Secretary, and John Paul Kiffasi from Irene Gleeson Foundation representing many youths who were mentored by the former Speaker of Parliament among many others.

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Success requires a positive attitude and the right mindset- Rwabwogo to Bunyoro Sub-Region graduates

The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) Odrek Rwabwogo has encouraged the graduates of an industrial skilling program not to be afraid of failure, to cultivate a positive attitude, and to develop the right mindset to succeed in their chosen fields. This was on Friday 23rd February 2024 at Duhaga Secondary School playground in Hoima City where 6112 individuals from Bunyoro Sub-Region graduated in various fields after completing a six-month Skilling Program.

The 6112 individuals were awarded certificates in various fields including; piggery, fish farming, fruit farming, bricklaying, baking/cooking, photography, radio and television presenting, computer application, tailoring, motor vehicle mechanics, goat farming, music and soap farming among many others.

The skilling program is an initiative of the collaboration between PACEID and the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) under the Ministry of Sports and Education.

Rwabwogo, who was the Chief Guest, shared personal experiences to inspire the graduates and emphasized the importance of learning from failures and bouncing back stronger, rather than being disheartened by setbacks. “Achieving success requires a positive attitude and a mindset that refuses to quit. PACEID recognizes the potential of the Bunyoro Sub-region in contributing to Uganda’s export sector, and has designed this program to provide the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in various industrial sectors and contribute to the growth of export-driven economies.”

He urged the graduates to view failure as an opportunity for self-reflection and improvement, rather than a reason to give up on their dreams. “Failure is not the end of the road but a stepping stone towards success,” Rwabwogo said passionately. “Do not be afraid to take risks and face failure head-on. It is through failure that we learn valuable lessons and can grow as individuals.”

Dr. Patrick Byakatonda, the Director-DIT thanked PACEID for their efforts in enhancing participants’ employability and enabling them to seamlessly transition into the workplace. “This approach aligns with the principal goal of the initiative, which is to foster economic growth by nurturing a skilled and competent workforce in the Bunyoro Sub-region. By leveraging each other’s strengths, DIT and PACEID aim to create a robust and complex training curriculum that addresses the specific requirements of different industrial sectors within the Bunyoro Sub-region and the entire country.”

DIT Director Dr. Patrick Byakatonda

Dr. Byakatonda further encouraged the graduates to upgrade their skills to higher vocational-level competencies to compete better in the global market.

Hon. Mary Grace Mugasa, the State Minister for Public Service applauded PACEID and DIT for the skilling initiative that saw thousands of individuals get certified and pledged to support the cause whenever she is called upon. “This skilling program will create a lasting impact on the industrial landscape of Bunyoro Sub-region. We are grateful that our people are going to be certified and be recognized at an international level.”

Hon. Mary Grace Mugasa, State Minister for Public Service addresses graduates

Matthew Bagonza, the Head of the Secretariat at PACEID cautioned the graduates about keeping discipline and urged them to aim for higher rewards. He expressed gratitude to all who contributed to the successful completion of the training and assessment in Bunyoro. “Today’s graduation ceremony serves as a testament to the hard work and dedication of the program participants, as well as the successful collaboration between PACEID and DIT. Thank you Dr. Byakatonda and your team.”

Head of PACEID Secretariat Matthew Bagonza salutes the graduates

As the chairman of PACEID, Rwabwogo continues to inspire and empower individuals in Uganda to strive for success and contribute to the country’s overall economic growth.

By equipping individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary for success in the global marketplace, the initiative aims to unlock the region’s economic potential and pave the way for a prosperous future.

The graduation ceremony was attended by a considerable number of prominent leaders in the Bunyoro Sub-region including; Rev. Fr. Dominic Ndugwa Ateenyi, Rev. Francis Mugisa Amooti, Hon. George Tinka Amooti, Hon. Muhanuli Bosco Amooti, Sheik Musa Atwooki, Hon. Lawrence Bategeka Ateenyi, Bakutaga Andrew Ateenyi, Magara Fitz Gerald John Ateenyi and many others at different levels.

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Ugandan Government Partners with IPS and International Experts for Green Hydrogen-Based Fertilizer Production

In a strategic move to promote sustainable agriculture and reduce import reliance, the Ugandan government has signed a Joint Development Agreement with Industrial
Promotion Services (Kenya) Limited (IPS) for a green hydrogen-based fertilizer plant.

The plant will be strategically located at Karuma, Kiryandongo District, within the Bunyoro sub-
region, to leverage its proximity to the 600 MW Karuma Hydropower Plant.

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD), representing the Government of Uganda, has committed a minimum 100 MW supply from Karuma HPP to develop this innovative project.
Energy Minister Dr Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu signed on behalf of the government.

“Uganda is embracing green technology to transform its agricultural sector and become a
regional sustainability leader,” said Dr Nankabirwa. “This project will not only reduce
dependency on imported fertilizers and empower farmers but also catalyse Uganda’s green
hydrogen economy, fostering innovation in mobility, power generation, oxygen production,
and other key sectors.”

The project, facilitated by the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial
Development (PACEID), aims to boost domestic fertilizer production, improve food security,
and create economic opportunities for farmers.

IPS, part of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), will lead the project
alongside Westgass Internasjol AS, a Norwegian green energy specialist, and Maire Tecnimont
S.p.A, an Italian multinational renowned for fertilizer plant engineering.

This venture enjoys the vital support of the British and Norwegian governments, global champions of green initiatives. Financial backing is anticipated from British International
Investment (BII) and Norfund, Norway’s development finance institution.

“IPS is dedicated to climate-positive development,” said Galeb Gulam, CEO of IPS. “This project is a game-changer for Ugandan agriculture, demonstrating our commitment to low- carbon economic solutions.”

Odrek Rwabwogo, PACEID chairman, emphasized the project’s support of Uganda’s export goals. “This initiative will harness resources and technology to make a decisive impact on our
agricultural sector and national export ambitions,” he said.

This collaborative effort envisions a future of resilient, sustainable agriculture with lasting
benefits for Ugandan farmers and the economy. It demonstrates the Ugandan government’s
strong commitment to import substitution and enhanced food security.

“Our sustainable approach will create jobs, decrease fertilizer imports, and address national
food and income security. This partnership exemplifies Uganda’s focus on ecological
responsibility and economic success,” added Kinar Kent, CEO of Westgass.

Westgas is the international project development arm of Westgass Hydrogen, a green energy company focused on accelerating the transition from fossil fuels in Europe and emerging markets. The Company enables customers to run carbon-neutral businesses by 2030, supplying affordable and secure green hydrogen and green ammonia, leveraging on its experience, expertise and network in the energy sector.

Westgass is collaborating on this project with Norfund, the Norwegian Investment Fund for developing countries. Norfund’s committed portfolio totals 3.1 billion USD in Sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia, and Central America. Norfund has four investment areas: Renewable Energy, Financial Inclusion, Scalable Enterprises and Green Infrastructure.

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PACEID and DIT empower Mukono with 4675 skilled graduates 

The Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) in partnership with the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) have graduated 4675 students in various fields in Mukono. The graduates successfully completed a six-month competency certificate training program. 

Held under the theme ‘Skilling for Industrial Development: Promoting Employable Skills’, the graduation ceremony took place on Thursday 25/01/2024 at Mukono Boarding Primary School in Mukono Municipality with PACEID Chairman Odrek Rwabwogo officiating as the Chief Guest.

The program aims to equip individuals with the necessary skills to promote industrial development and increase exports.

Students were certified in various fields including; electrical engineering, piggery, brick laying, coffee farming, poultry farming, tailoring, rabbit husbandry, photography, soap making, art and crafts designing, carpentry, motorcycle maintenance and styling among others. During the six-month program based on a modular competency framework, PACEID and DIT devised a comprehensive curriculum that covers both theory and practical aspects.

Rwabwogo congratulated the students for successfully completing the skilling program noting that it marks a special milestone in their journey towards self-reliance and professional growth. “The skills and knowledge you have acquired in various fields will undoubtedly open doors of opportunity for you in the job market and contribute to the overall development of our nation. As graduates of this program, you are now equipped with the necessary skills to excel in your chosen field. Remember that learning doesn’t stop here, it is a lifelong process.” Rwabwogo told the graduates. 

He revealed that the collaboration between PACEID and DIT underscores the government’s commitment to fostering a skilled workforce capable of driving industrial growth. 

“Today is an important day to bring to fruition the collaboration the collaboration between PACEID and DIT, you can hear the word ‘Industry’ in both. We cannot attract investments, factories into the country if we don’t have qualified labour. But we also cannot train all the skills we need in such a short time because it is expensive. When DIT looks at the work of exports and ties it to industry and trains and certifies people in a short time on basic skills; how to rare chickens for exports, how to run a farm. These are basics but they are a very good start. When you certify these kinds of skills, they can carry these to factories and find work but also make it easier for people to find a little bit trained labour than rushing to universities which are often theoretical.” Rwabwogo noted while also emphasizing the national collective ethic.  

Rwabwogo further expressed appreciation to DIT headed by Dr. Patrick Byakatonda for the collaboration and support through the program stating that it is through these partnerships that we can create meaningful change and transform lives of many. 

Dr. Patrick Byakatonda- Director of the Directorate of Industrial Training thanked the trainers and instructors who worked tirelessly to impart knowledge and expertise in the graduates. 

He congratulated the students while cautioning them of the challenges ahead. “As we celebrate this milestone, let us not forget the challenges thar lie ahead. The industrial landscape is constantly evolving, and it is imperative that we continue to adapt and stay ahead of the curve. Therefore, I encourage you (graduates) to never stop learning and to continuously upgrade your skills.” Dr. Byakatonda told the graduates during his speech. 

The chief mobilizer for the training program in greater Mukono, Pastor Samuel Lwandasa highlighted the importance of this initiative and its positive impact on the beneficiaries and the community at large. He further applauded Rwabwogo and PACEID team for the efforts in reducing poverty through skills development. 

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Uganda, South Sudan to harmonize standards to enhance cross border trade

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) together with the South Sudan National Bureau of Standards (SSNBS) are set to harmonise sampling, test methods and certification processes to enhance bi-lateral trade between Uganda and South Sudan. The resolution is one of the many reached at, during a meeting between the two National Standards Bodies held on 11th January 2024, in Nimule.

The engagement led by both the UNBS Ag. Executive Director Mr. Nangalama Daniel Richard Makayi and the SSNBS Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Hon. Dr. Kuorwel Kuai Kuorwel, came after a recent standoff between Uganda and South Sudan over maize exports from Uganda, which saw a Joint Ugandan Delegation led by the Senior Presidential Advisor and Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) Mr. Odrek Rwabwogo travel to Elegu-Nimule, in 2023 to negotiate release of impounded Ugandan Trucks with maize grain and flour in South Sudan.

Since then, UNBS embarked on batch sampling and laboratory analysis of maize grain and flour   exports to S. Sudan in designated sampling yards in Central (Afrokai in Matugga), Eastern (Uhuru Parking, Mbale) and Northern Uganda (Layibi in Gulu), utilising the UNBS Central and regional testing laboratories. Since this intervention, 346 out of the 367 samples representing 94.2% of the total maize flour samples analysed, complied with the standard requirements and were from 23 companies certified by UNBS.

The two National Standards Bodies have thus agreed that;

  • All products covered by Compulsory Standards including cereals and cereal products  (mainly maize flour) must be certified by UNBS prior to being exported to South Sudan from Uganda.
  • A Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) certificate from competent authorities in Uganda MUST accompany other products exported to South Sudan like fruits and vegetables, dairy products like fresh milk and yorghurt, chicken and chicken products, fish and fish products.
  • A technical team from the two standards bodies to be set up to harmonise sampling, test methods and certification processes, among other resolutions.

UNBS has since urged all manufacturers and traders intending to export goods to South Sudan to ensure that they undergo the UNBS Certification process and obtain a certification permit and a SPS certificate from a competent authority where applicable, for the smooth flow of their goods and services to South Sudan.

UNBS is tasked with enforcing standards to protect the health and safety of consumers and the environment against dangerous and sub-standard products as well as, ensuring fairness in trade and strengthening the economy of Uganda by assuring the quality of locally manufactured products to enhance the competitiveness of exports in regional and international markets.

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Uganda Expands Trade Horizons, Launches New Hubs and Forges Stronger Ties with Serbia and the Balkans for Enhanced Agricultural Export and Processing

Africa in 2019 just before COVID-19 induced lockdowns exported USD421bn and received USD31b in development assistance and USD40bn in FDI. Uganda lies somewhere small in these figures and it shows you how much exports dwarf aid only if we can focus. This export level is still so small for a group of human beings (Africans) who constitute 17% of the world population. Even worse the concentration of these exports is just simply commodities – minerals, oil and agricultural products that are unprocessed. This is why we keep awake driving export growth for Uganda and we will go anywhere, meet every criticism and work with joy; for we are called in our time to fix some things not to lament.

This is why I thank the partnership we have developed with Serbia and the Balkans to ensure that processing of coffee, handling of fresh fruits and vegetables and other products is done at the entebbe free zones area and make it easier to ship in bulk. The Hon. Ivica Dacic, foreign minister for Serbia and its former PM, came to the free zones to inaugurate the start of the hub at entebbe and called on the free zones authority. I thank Bratislav Stoiljkovic, our trade representative who is opening a third Uganda connect trade hub to make our products known and accessible from Uganda. Mr. Mark Pursey, our Trade Representative in UK will too be opening a hub in London this year as we prepare for the Africa- UK summit.

These efforts make our country come out of woodworks on trade and export matters. We are way behind in how nations compete and are instead locked in shallow peripheral political conflicts instead of focusing on what builds us as a country. PACIED target is 25 trade hubs across the world in the next ten years. This will attract technology and skills, capital investments and develop better supply chains for our products.

In the last decade exports of agricultural products that are of high value have grown only one percentage points yet the continent grows at 3% of GDP and her population at 2.5%! If this doesn’t shock people into reality, what will in terms of what needs to be done to keep Africa stable and growing?

So yesterday we articulated Uganda’s trade policy to the Serbian government delegation as:
1) We will offer tax and infrastructure incentives in return for removal of taxes on Ugandan products into Serbia and the Balkans.
2) We will insist on assembly and manufacturing of agricultural equipment such as coffee machines and processing of juices instead of export raw products to them.
3) We will help with the logistics and supply chain improvements, packaging and packing materials in return for them to process portions of the products here.
4) We will appoint an Honorary consul who will drive trade and not the ones who drink champagne and sell hardware to our country. We will be intentional on growing this trade relationship by signing a new bilateral agreement this year to capture these elements.

Thank you.

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Rwabwogo calls for export-driven economies at East Africa Trade and Investment Forum

The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) Odrek Rwabwogo has rallied East Africans to adopt export-driven economies for regional transformation.

Rwabwogo, who doubles as the Senior Presidential Advisor-Special Duties, made the remarks at the third and final day of the three-days East African Trade and Investment Summit at the Kampala Serena Hotel on Wednesday, January 27, 2024.

He was part of panel discussing how to grow regional economies at the high-profile summit that was organized on the sidelines of the 19th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the 3rd South Summit (G77). He shared stage with Humphrey Nzeyi- Chairman of Private Sector Foundation Uganda, MTN Uganda CEO Sylivia Mulinge, Kudakwashe Matereke-Regional Chief Operating Officer of AFREXIM Bank and Dr. Thangvel Palnivel from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP Uganda).

Alongside the panel discussion was a Business-to-Business meeting between Afroexim Bank, DTB, National Housing, Centenary Bank discussing the Packages they can offer to the private sector.

Rwabwogo shed light on PACEID’s interventions and their role in helping Uganda achieve its ambitious $6 billion target in export earnings by 2028. He highlighted the PACEID’s focus on four key areas: market research, standards and compliance, export infrastructure, and export financing. These initiatives aim to address the main challenges faced by exporters and improve the overall competitiveness of Ugandan products in international markets. “By understanding market trends and consumer preferences, exporters can align their products to meet international standards and target niche markets, ultimately boosting export earnings.”

Rwabwogo stated that these reforms will allow our government to re-align the thinking and help to strengthen the productive capabilities of our businesses.

“PACEID has invested in a team of researchers to inform our strategy, planning and decisions. Collaboration with Private and Public sector stakeholders in Uganda trade and investment is essential.” Rwabwogo noted while urging all stakeholders to exercise agency and drive forward the excellent and transformative trade and investment ideas discussed at the Summit.

The rest of the panelists discussed various aspects of trade and investment, including regional integration, market access, investment promotion, and trade facilitation.

John Bosco Kalisa emphasized the need for harmonized trade policies, streamlined regulations, and enhanced infrastructure to facilitate seamless trade flows among member states.

The discussions also delved into specific sectors that offer significant potential for trade and investment in East Africa. Agriculture, manufacturing, and services were highlighted as areas where there are ample opportunities for growth and development.

The East Africa Trade and Investment Forum provided a platform for policymakers, business leaders, and investors to exchange ideas and explore potential partnerships.

Held under theme “Deepening Cooperation in Trade, Tourism and Investment for Shared Global Affluence”, the forum started on 15th January 2024 and was officiated by the 1st Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of East African Affairs Rt Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga and was officially opened by the Vice President Her Excellency Jesca Alupo on Tuesday 16th January 2024. The forum was been attended by over 500 delegates from 19 countries; Uganda, Qatar, United Kingdom (UK), Türkiye, Kenya, Egypt, Algeria, India, Cuba, China, South Africa, South Sudan, Italy, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria and Morocco.

The forum was also addressed by the EAC Deputy Secretary General – Customs, Trade and Monetary Affairs Ms. Annette Ssemuwemba Mutaawe. She underscored the EAC policies on ensuring that the EAC is an attractive destination for trade and investment. Such include the Customs Union and Common Market with no tariffs and harmonized rules of origin, cost, and time of doing business in EAC which is reduced with 13 One Stop Border Point (OSBP), and there is common infrastructure to process goods in customs. She committed that the EAC secretariate is ready and capable to facilitate trade within the community.

Rt. Hon. PM, Amb. Jan Sadek the Head of EU Delegation in Uganda also highlighted the positive trade balance that Uganda has maintained and a top recipient of FDI with a lot of potential for business in the country. He pledged EU – EAC partnership in investment and trade based on the existing bilateral agreements and invited investors to the EU Business Summit which is due this year.

While closing the forum, Humphrey Nzeyi noted that there is urgent need to;

  1. Scale-up cross-country investments in connectivity and high-quality infrastructure across the region both physical and digital connectivity.
  2. Invest in Bwindi and Mgahinga tourism infrastructure especially tourism roads, airports, and internal flights by Uganda Airlines. Data shows that money invested in such strategic infrastructure can be recovered in a period of less than 3 years.
  3. Build the capacity of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to harness the potential of the AfCFTA. Strengthening the competitiveness and export readiness of SMEs in regional value chains through trade financing and business development services is crucial.
  4. Strengthen regional cooperation to eliminate the persistent trade barriers.
  5. Invest in cross boarder infrastructure such as roads, cargo airlines and railways to facilitate trade.

The 1st East Africa Trade and Investment Forum was organized by the Government of Uganda through the Ministries of Trade Industry and Cooperatives and Foreign Affairs, PSFU, UNDP Uganda, Stanbic Bank, National Housing and Construction Company, NSSF, Banana Industrial Research and Innovation and NEC-Streit – Armoured Vehicles among many others.

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